What should I expect in terms of Treatment, Procedures and Outcomes?
Most babies recover very quickly after their operations and will not experience
much pain in the days that follow, although medication is given for any discomfort.
For cleft lip, patients can go home within a day or two of surgery. For cleft palate,
patients will normally spend several days in hospital; arrangements will be made
for parents to stay with their babies during this time.
Patients with repaired cleft lips will need to return to hospital to have their
stitches removed a few days after surgery, while the stitches used in cleft palate
operations will dissolve in the patient’s mouth.
For cases of cleft lip, there will be some scarring of the upper lip, but on the
whole the natural shape of the lip will be restored by the operation. It is sometimes
necessary for revision surgery to be carried out after several years to improve
the appearance of a scar, the shape of the nose or, in the case of cleft palate,
to improve speech.
Once they have been operated on, patients can expect follow-up appointments until
the age of 20. In some cases, patients may experience problems with facial development.
Failure of the jaw to grow forward normally, for instance, can lead to an inward
bite and a face that appears slightly flat. This may require corrective facial surgery,
known as maxillary osteotomy and is carried out after the age of 17. The appearance
of the nose can also be affected, requiring some patients to have cosmetic nose
surgery, or rhinoplasty, to set this right.